Actress and awesome feminist Ashley Judd is seriously considering running for Senate, Politico reports today. In the last few weeks, she has met with New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, presumably to get advice, and has started conducting opposition research on herself to find out where she’s vulnerable to attack. Luckily her family has never done anything embarrassing!
Politico‘s report says that Judd is mulling a 2014 run against long-time Republican senator Mitch McConnell. But McConnell is the Senate minority leader, which makes him a major power, and he’d be tough to defeat. So Judd may decide to wait until 2016 to run, when she could take on freshman senator Rand Paul.
Judd has been developing her interest in politics for years now. She earned a Master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School in 2010, and she has been outspoken about issues including global poverty, women’s health and education, and the treatment of animals. This year she served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for Tennessee.
Still, she is also a celebrity and the star of many silly movies. So it’s easy to imagine how both opponents and media would attack her if she ran. Al Franken was the last true celebrity to run for Senate; he won his seat in 2008. And celebrities have made headway in other offices: Sonny Bono served as a congressman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was the governor of California. Heck, Ronald Reagan was an actor before he ran for president.
But it’s much rarer for female celebrities to make this leap. Shirley Temple ran unsuccessfully for congress, and was then appointed an ambassador to the UN, and later ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. A one-time stage actress named Helen Gahagan Douglas ran successfully for Congress in 1944. And as far as I can tell, that’s pretty much it. (If I missed anyone, let me know in the comments.) So if Judd does run, it will be interesting to compare the media coverage and public reaction with the campaigns of male celebrities. Will she be taken seriously as a candidate? Should she be taken seriously as a candidate? And what does this mean for the future of Someone Like You 2???